Palpitations, Flutters And A-Fib After Heart Valve Surgery?

I just received a great question from Steve about heart flutters and palpitations following heart valve surgery. In fact, Steve’s question brought back a very distinct memory from my own heart surgery recovery.

Steve writes, “Hi Adam – I had my aortic valve replaced, with a pig valve, 7 weeks ago today.  During the past couple of weeks my heart is very fluttery and I feel like I have motion sickness.  It lasts for most of the day and is gone after a good nights rest.  Did you ever experience something like this? And, is this something I should worry about? I hate calling my doctor for something that is normal. Thanks, Steve”


Small Heart With Sinus Rhythm


I have a couple thoughts for Steve…

First, something similar to this happened to me six months after my double, heart valve surgery. I was at work when… All of a sudden, my heart felt like it was flip-flopping and beating upside-down in my chest.

Sixty seconds later, I was on the phone with Dawn, the nurse of my cardiologist. Dawn was convinced it was nothing serious… just heart palpitations. She told me to call her if the palpitations continued.

Dawn also said, “As for heart palpitations, there really is nothing you can do right now unless it becomes very frequent. Most people have heart palpitations every once in a while – even if they did not have cardiac surgery.”

So you know, Harvard Medical School just released an interesting story on heart palpitations, which states that, “Palpitations—the sensation that the heart has started to race or pound, or feels like it has skipped a beat—are usually caused by a harmless hiccup in the heart’s rhythm. Sometimes, though, palpitations reflect a problem in the heart or elsewhere in the body. Sorting out worrisome palpitations from harmless ones isn’t always easy, reports the Harvard Heart Letter.

This article continues, “If your palpitations aren’t accompanied by dizziness or other symptoms and if you don’t have a valve disorder or other structural problem with your heart, that usually means palpitations are benign.”

However, as you will remember Steve noted that he did experience motion sickness at the same time he felt his heart flutter.

That brings me to the second point of this blog…

If you have a concern or question about your health condition, please contact your cardiologist or surgeon. You are their patient. You have a right to have your questions answered. Please do not hesitate to contact your physician even if that call is for “peace-of-mind” and to hear that magic phrase, “That’s normal!”

Remember, “Safe not sorry!” The last thing Steve, or anybody, needs is to have some form of undetected atrial fibrillation (A-Fib) which might result in a stroke after heart surgery.

That said, I encouraged Steve to contact his cardiologist immediately.

Keep on tickin!

Adam Pick
Written by Adam Pick

Adam Pick is a patient, author of The Patient's Guide To Heart Valve Surgery and the founder of

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